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John Gilbert diary entry

16 March 1845 - 18 March 1845

Page 54. Volume 2

842 1/2

water, I much confess I returned to camp very hungry and rather fatigued, my whole dis=tance out was perhaps not less 20 miles.

[in left margin]

Mon 17th

11 miles

W by N.

Natives Store Camp415

To day we moved on the Stage I marked out, the day cloudy and cool and pleasant travelling. We made out the distance to be 11 miles and the course about W by North, in the afternoon the Dr α Charlie left us to reconnoiter, this is the first time the Dr has felt himself well enough to take this part of our duties since leaving Skull Camp. Since Brown and I were here yesterday the Natives have been at the water-holes, and their tracks in many places were observed following our tracks, α within a hundred yards we found one of their Stores consisting principally of Bag nets with small Meshes, for the purpose of catching Crayfish, there were a few ornaments and other little things. The Dr did not return.

[in left margin]

Tues 18th

Stationary in consequence of the Drs absence. I have had so much reconnoitering to do of late, that I have had very little time to attend to other little matters, and to day gave me an opportunity of being very busily employed, in mending my clothes416, this is now a task which now becomes more frequent α necessary, for when first setting out we never dreamed of being longer than seven or 8 months in reaching our destination but now we have the prospect of being nearer double that time, and our constant desire is to make our small supply of clothing last us out if possible, I believe I shall be the best off in this respect but what the Dr and his original party will do has already become a matter of doubt among them several have now have been nearly two months without a good pair of Boots, and have been wearing Mocassins made of green hide and has [sic] regards Shirts α Trousers they were in the first place badly provided even for the short time of six months, they will doubtless have to cut up their Blankets or Tarpaulings to make clothing long ere we reach our destination, and this all arises from their want of Bush experience, the Dr prevented Roper α Calvert bringing many things they wished in his constant desire to lessen the weight α bulk of the Bullocks loads, and in doing so left out many of the most useful α necessary things to give place to others which he now see's are only an useless burthen to carry. In looking at the map we see that we have but just made a fourth of the whole journey and have been nearly six months

Note 415

Although they stayed at “Natives Store Camp” (Leichhardt’s “Blackfellow Store Camp”) for the nights of 17th & 18th March, and this is how Leichhardt recorded it on his sketch map, the map of the route published by Arrowsmith in Leichhardt’s Journal (1847) shows an intermediate campsite on the 18th March, between Natives Store Camp and Big Water Camp of the 19th March.

Note 416

Chisholm (Strange New World 1941: 208) recorded that, after Gilbert’s death on June 28th 1845, Leichhardt kept his gun, specimens, the two portions of Gilbert’s diary, and his “housewife” (a “housewife” being a mending kit of needles, pins, thread, etc., but probably in this case it was Gilbert’s skinning apparatus). A letter from Frederick Strange to John Gould dated May 1846 (Gould Correspondence, Natural History Museum) confirms that “Leichhardt have Gilberts Gun … and all his skinning instruments”. Leichhardt himself referred to the “housewife” in a letter to George Bennett (2nd September 1846, Mitchell Library, Sydney C.161); Gilbert’s gun was apparently broken. Other references confirm that Leichhardt sent Gilbert’s diary and his bird specimens back to Gould.